Before businesses can reap benefits from IoT, IT leaders must create a solid technical foundation.
4. Custom Analytics
Similar debates about when to choose cloud over on-premises resources are swirling around analytics for IoT. MachNation forecasts that, over the long term, cloud-based analytics will be the most highly adopted option. The exceptions will be use-cases that rely on edge computing or those that require low network latency. These conditions will require IT departments to support on-premises analytics resources.
Either way, the actual analytics programs for IoT are distinguishing themselves from traditional business intelligence applications. “A host of companies are developing specialized analytics for areas such as predictive maintenance on jet engines and machinery used in manufacturing,” Christy says.
He’s also seen IoT applications that capture high-frequency sound recordings of machinery for acoustical analyses that correlate particular sounds to impending equipment failures. “You’re not going to do that with a SQL-based data warehouse,” he says.
To shift from traditional business intelligence reporting to more real-time and predictive analytics, Avnet upgraded its data warehouse environment with an in-memory database platform. “It’s more flexible, and it allows us to analyze broad sets of data without too much data preparation,” Phillips says.
He adds that being forward-looking is important when making decisions about IoT analytics. “Pick software tools that will be effective, not just for today, but for where you’ll think IoT may be in a couple years,” he says.
5. Pervasive Security
Overriding all infrastructure decisions are concerns about protecting IoT systems from unauthorized access and keeping the data they generate secure. Lingering questions about how to address these areas represent a top inhibitor to IoT growth, MachNation analyst Hilton says. “Businesses and governments invest tremendous time and money securing their traditional IT assets—PCs, desktops, servers, routers, and switches,” MachNation’s recent report on IoT security says. “It is not surprising that these same organizations are reluctant to implement new IoT solutions unless they are comfortable with the high levels of security they can provide.”
Avnet’s Phillips applies many of the same security policies and technologies used for enterprise applications to IoT systems. These range from strong password and two-factor authentication to data encryption. “Our approach is to take the trusted information security techniques we have in place and apply them to new environments, such as IoT,” he says.